A bet­ter team through chem­istry

Boston Herald - - CELTICS SEASON PREVIEW - CELTICS BEAT Steve Bulpett mu­sic. Twit­ter: @SteveBHoop

The sheet mu­sic for ev- ery great song in his­tory is avail­able for pur­chase. The notes can be played by any num­ber of pro­fi­cient artists.

But that doesn’t guar­an­tee it’ll sound the same. That doesn’t mean it’ll be

Mas­ter­pieces come from great com­po­si­tion and then great chem­istry in the ex­e­cu­tion. The per­form­ers don’t even nec­es­sar­ily have to like each other; they just have to tune in to the same vi­bra­tions and sen­sory in­tel­lect to reach the crit­i­cal har­mony.

So it will be with the Celtics this sea­son.

The artists are aligned — some of the best in the world, cer­tainly more vir­tu­osos than most other teams in the NBA. The coach will de­liver the notes to be played, fill­ing the cho­ruses and set­ting up the so­los.

All the re­quired el­e­ments are here — peo­ple who can shoot and pass and de­fend and re­bound. But can th­ese peo­ple be a true band? Can they im­pro­vise when an op­po­nent in­vades their space and rips their orches­tral pages? Can they get out of each other’s way to cre­ate the smooth sounds, or will they all try too of­ten to lead?

For me, the most in­ter­est­ing as­pect to this Celtic sea­son is that, bar­ring any­thing cat­a­strophic, it will al­most en­tirely be about chem­istry. It will be about how well they can, when nec­es­sary, sup­press their own dom­i­nant in­stincts and play rhythm gui­tar.

If the Celtics find that groove, there can be noth­ing that should stop them from get­ting to the NBA Fi­nals and do­ing who knows what from there. If they do not, this could be a colos­sal cleanup on aisle 5.

All along the way, in ei­ther case, it will be in­trigu­ing. Were Sig­mund Freud

still alive, the Her­ald would do well to bounce me from this beat and have him cover the club.

There are no se­crets here, least of all to the Celtics them­selves. They are well aware their sea­son will be de­cided by how closely they can grow as bas­ket­ball brethren.

“It’s a lot more than tal­ent,” said Mar­cus Mor­ris. “Tal­ent helps, but it’s a lot more than that.”

Brad Stevens has been work­ing on new tunes for the setlist, try­ing, as well, to find the right ar­range­ments. But he knows there is a limit to what a coach can do.

“It’s about chem­istry and how you com­pete to­gether,” he said. “It’s find­ing each other’s strengths and soar­ing with them, fig­ur­ing them out, cov­er­ing for one an­other on de­fense, mak­ing sure that you’re co­he­sive on both sides.

“I think chem­istry’s one of our big­gest de­ter­min­ing fac­tors all year long. And that’s any year. I mean,

last year, the year be­fore, five years ago, you’re try­ing to be the best ver­sion of your­self with who you’ve got.

“This team has a bunch of guys with a lot of strengths, and some days will be their days in­di­vid­u­ally, some days won’t. But col­lec­tively we’ve got to be all good to­gether.”

Al Hor­ford smiled at the thought that hoop re­la­tion­ships will count for so much, now that the tal­ent is in place.

“It’s go­ing to be very in­ter­est­ing,” said the vet­eran. “It’s early and it’s good. Ev­ery­body’s say­ing the right things and try­ing to do the right things, but we’ll see.

“I re­ally be­lieve that we un­der­stand what we’re try­ing to ac­com­plish, and we’re go­ing to just keep build­ing this, be­cause it’s dif­fer­ent. We have so many guys that can do so many things, and I think we all un­der­stand that we’re play­ing for some­thing big­ger than in­di­vid­ual.”

Mar­cus Smart is cer­tainly on board with that.

“It’s all about sac­ri­fice,” he said. “That’s hard for some teams, but ev­ery­body here wants to win a ban­ner. And if that means we’ve got to give up play­ing time, we’re for it. Egos off to the side. You check your ego at the door. We’re a fam­ily here, and that’s how we come out on the floor every day.

“We’ve got a cou­ple of key guys back in Gor­don (Hay­ward) and Kyrie (Irv­ing), and that’s def­i­nitely a part of any new sea­son, try­ing to get that chem­istry be­tween guys, try­ing to get the chem­istry be­tween the bigs and the guards and things like that. Ev­ery­thing has to mesh to­gether, and Brad does an out­stand­ing job of that. He de­mands per­fec­tion and he al­lows you to be you while you’re try­ing to be per­fect. When you have a coach like that, it’s easy for your chem­istry to come along, be­cause he doesn’t sin­gle any one guy out. It’s the team, and that’s huge.”

Hay­ward be­lieves the Celts can’t just think their co­he­sion into ex­is­tence; it has to get worked out in the lab.

“I think a lot of that is just be­ing on the court at the same time,” he said. “For me, per­son­ally, I played a lit­tle bit in the pre­sea­son last year and had now two train­ing camps and that’s about it.

“I think there’s so many things you learn about each other when you’re just out there play­ing games. There’s things that hap­pen in the game that never hap­pen in prac­tice, like things that hap­pen on the fly. Learn­ing each other’s strengths, learn­ing each other’s ten­den­cies, how you like to space around the court, who likes to cut more — all those things are things we’re go­ing to have to learn about each other. I think that’ll come with just be­ing on the court more.”

Even for those who are on the court less. Mor­ris has given the re­serves the BWA tag (bench with at­ti­tude). At its best, it’s a way to cel­e­brate the will­ing­ness to be a part of the process — even when you’re not get­ting in­tro­duced with a spot­light be­fore tipoff.

“I think all those guys, whether they’re start­ing or not, don’t care if they’re called starters or bench play­ers,” said Stevens. “They’d just all rather be called win­ners.”

And if the Celtics are still singing in June, each of them will get a gold record.

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